The other F word.

“I’m fine.”
“It’s fine.”
“I’ll be fine.”
“It’ll be fine.”

Those four letters. Defined to mean something of “high quality”, “satisfactory”, or even something of a “pleasing manner”, when in actuality it has completely taken on a whole new identity. Over time, that small word has created a space for us to hide behind. A place for us to pretend, suppress, and block what’s really happening beyond. It’s as though a mask or costume has slowly been growing onto each letter. Giving it a new existence. Stripping away the quality it once held it’s self to. And now, there’s no way to peel it back. The “fine” you say — the “fine” you hear — is the fine 2.0.

I’ll take a step back. Like most people who continue (or embark) on a personal journey to grow, mend, and expand, I started from a place of hurt. Thankfully this was just emotional, and not physical, but it was hurt nonetheless. I made myself vulnerable, open, exposed, and I was ultimately lied to, and taken for a complete ride. Made a fool, and got hurt through the process. Nothing crazy, but when emotional hurt happens — it knocks you over, you stumble a minute, but you always seem to find a way to get back up. It’s all part of the course.

I have always appreciated that life is your journey and even though things may not make sense at the moment, there’s a bigger lesson behind it. A bigger picture is getting painted. One day you will understand what that is, and ultimately grow. So when something happens — business, relationship, family, etc. — deep down I used to assure myself that everything will be “fine”. Not anymore.

After this recent incident, I found myself answering the questions of “how are you feeling?” or “how are you doing?” with “I’m fine”, or “I’ll be fine”. Which is wrong. I felt betrayed. I felt upset. I felt angry. I felt confused. I felt lonely. I felt sad. Even though I knew everything was going to work out, I felt everything except feeling fine.

Why is this the first response? Why have we created this fall back word to protect us, when it’s really just hurting us even more. In any situation that you answer you are “fine”, you truly are not. We have to be aware of what we say, and blanketing doesn’t help. There is some emotion, some body language, or some internal feeling that’s ready to be released and you won’t let it. When you answer with those four letters all you do is push them down because you don’t want to deal with them head on. As Michael A. Singer, author of The Untethered Soul, puts it — you’re essentially creating a block. Down the line, this will have a reverse effect since you aren’t choosing to deal with that pain at the moment.

I’m writing this with an ask for you to look at yourself, and change your dialogue. I notice it most with women. When fighting in a relationship, overwhelmed with work, overwhelmed with family, or processing the hurt of a break up.

I encourage you to change the conversation, and remove the word “fine” from your vocabulary. Instead of blanketing how you are feeling, let the emotion surface. Give that feeling in your stomach, in your chest, in your heart, a name and make that feeling a reality. Make it real. Process it. It’s okay to admit the pain. It’s where we grow.

As soon as we respond with “fine”, the walls go up, the bridge over the moat gets pulled up, the sharks surround, and you’re safe. No follow up questions, no need to go further. But why do that? Your choosing a word that lets the other person know there’s something going on, but you’re choosing not to elaborate. You don’t want to? Ok — choose “I’ll be okay”, or “I’m working through it”. Anything but the F word.

But also take note that someone is asking you how you are doing because they want to know. They are creating a space for you to release and talk about it. Be strong, be powerful, and own up that you aren’t feeling 100%. It’s normal, and it’s healthy. Once you make a name for it, you will feel a sense of relief. Not to say that you should start airing all your dirty laundry, but by simply attaching a few other words to the emotion instead of “fine” truly feels much better.

Look, clearly I’m no doctor. I’m just a 30 year old female, who tells bad jokes, loves pizza, living in New York, going through life’s ebbs and flows as best I can. Taking life as it comes — day by day. However, what I do know (more now that ever), is that it feels really good to express. It gives me a sense of strength to be honest with myself and the people around me on what’s really behind the “fine”.

I encourage you to try. Or even take a notice on how many times the word is being used as a response — both in your life, and around you. It will surprise you. Try remove those four letters from your vocabulary, dialogue and mind. Because when you make that emotion real, and you process it- you’re just one step closer to letting go. Letting go, moving forward, most importantly putting yourself and how you feel first.